This summer and early fall, I’m re-posting the 10 Most-Read Stories Behind the Stories from this blog. I’ve rewritten each essay somewhat and included the most-often-asked question about the book.
As we continue our countdown, Something Upstairs is #3 on the most-read list, my 20th book.
- I was living in Los Angeles, one of the USA’s newest cities. I moved to Providence, Rhode Island, one of the USA’s oldest cities. The city is like a museum of early American architecture. It was rather like traveling back in time.
- The Providence house I moved into was a charming old one, built in 1835.
- The top floor was an attic that had been converted into an apartment. It had old wooden floors, and in the back was a small room. It had a stain on the floor.
- I began to wonder who had lived in my house a long time ago.
- I started to read about Providence history.
- I was visiting a school somewhere. A teacher took me aside and said, “I have a student who says it’s urgent that he talk to you alone. I don’t know what it’s about. But he’s very insistent. Could you spare a few moments?”
- My curiosity piqued I said, “Sure.” I was led into a small office and there was a boy sitting there fiddling with a key chain. I sat down, introduced myself, and said, “I understand you want to talk to me.” He said. “I just wanted to say hello.” That was it. He had no more to say. But the moment becomes a key part of my book. It’s very believable because, in part, it is true.
- I put all of this together and wrote a ghost story set in the house.
See point 3.
- I had written the book, but had no title. On another school visit, I read the beginning of the book to a class. They liked it. Then I said, “I have no title for it. Anybody have a suggestion?” A girl raised her hand. She said, “Why don’t you call it Something Upstairs?”
Most often asked question:
“What parts of the story are true?”
If you would like to see the house where I set this story, go to Google Maps, and request a look at 15 Sheldon Street, Providence R.I.